Disclaimer: Information within this article is correct as on 27th May 2020 and may be updated. JMR Solicitors continue to monitor government guidance and can advise you, using the most up-to-date laws, legislations, and government guidance in relation to covid-19.
As well as severe implications for people’s health, COVID-19 (coronavirus) is drastically affecting businesses of all sizes.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve as scientists’ race to find a vaccine. With the world having to adjust and get used to the new normal, it is time to shift our focus efforts that support a recovering from loss-of-profits, supports return to work, while addressing governmental help that is available to businesses.
With government guidance and legislation changing to help us adjust to the new normal, here we look at the latest information that businesses may be needing guidance on amid the Coronavirus pandemic.
An update on the Furlough scheme: If you are unable to keep on your current workers because business has been severely affected due to COVID-19 then you may furlough employees until the end of July. This is a government scheme that covers 80% of the employee’s usual monthly salary, to a maximum of £2,500 per month, with the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and pension contributions (up to the level of the minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contribution) on that subsidised furlough pay. The employer is to cover the other 20%.
This is a provisional scheme that was originally put in place for 4 months starting from 1 March 2020 but has now been extended by the Chancellor on 12th May to last until October 2020. Employers can use the scheme anytime until October 2020. On the Government website, they have said:
- Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will continue until end of October
- furloughed workers across UK will continue to receive 80% of their current salary, up to £2,500
- new flexibility will be introduced from August to get employees back to work and boost economy
- “As we reopen the economy, we need to support people to get back to work. From the start of August, furloughed workers will be able to return to work part-time with employers being asked to pay a percentage towards the salaries of their furloughed staff.”
For legal advice on furloughing your employees, contact JMR Solicitors.
Small Business Rates Relief: Small businesses in England which pay little or no business rates are eligible to a one-off cash grant of £10,000 from their local council. If you need help making an application JMR Solicitors can help.
Commercial tenants: The initiation of the Coronavirus Act 2020 provides a freeze on the forfeiture of business tenancies for three months. As landlords cannot terminate a business tenancy on the grounds of non-payment of rent until June 2020, this has triggered debates between landlords and their tenants around finding a feasible resolution for both parties. If you are affected by commercial tenancy issues, contact us for further legal advice.
Settlement Agreements and Redundancy: A lot of employers are looking at reorganising of their employees and workers due to the decline in business activity caused by Covid 19. This has resulted in an increase in redundancy procedures for employees and termination of workers contracts. It is important that the employer tailor the settlement agreement terms to meet the individual circumstances of terminating the employee or worker’s contract of employment. It is a requirement that the settlement agreement specifically refer to the complaints or legal claims being compromised, which makes the drafting of the agreement a critical step to ensure the agreement has the preferred effect. For legal representation for settlement agreements or redundancies, contact our employment law team on 0161 491 3933.
Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill: On the 20th May 2020, the Government published the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill which, once passed as official legislation, will bring about the greatest change in UK Insolvency law in nearly 20 years. The Bill is currently at the stage of being officially debated in Parliament.
The Bill proposes eight measures introduced to help businesses manage the economic damage caused by COVID-19.
Business Insurance: Successful COVID-19-related claims on your business insurance will depend on the terms and conditions outlined in your insurance policy. When the government added COVID-19 to the list of notifiable diseases on 5th March, this did not routinely change business insurance policy coverage. Your business might still be covered under business insurance if you have a non-damage business interruption added policy which may refer to human disease-related disruptions. However, to be eligible for a claim the wording the in policy needs to state it includes infectious diseases. Also check to see if there is a clause about denial of access, which means if circumstances stop access to your business premises. Also, you may need to look at events cancellation policy clauses to see if you are covered for exclusion for communicable diseases. JMR Solicitors can check your business insurance policy documents and advise you on whether you are eligible for a claim.
Employment Contracts: COVID-19 has caused many employment contracts being altered or modified due to the suspension of company activities or the breakdown of the contract itself. Within this framework, the key issues to consider include force majeure and government measures that have been put in place to support companies and employees during this exceptional situation. We have vast experience in drafting and amending employment contracts. Get in touch for a free 30-minute* consultation to discuss your needs.
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Contact JMR Solicitors if you are a business owner affected by Coronavirus
If your business is affected and you need legal advice on any of the matters mentioned above, contact JMR Solicitors on 0161 491 3933 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.